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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Sufis’

Mullahs Capitulate, Human Rights Lawyer Ends 49-Day Hunger Strike

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Nasrin Soutoudeh, a human rights lawyer in theocratic Iran, announced on December 4th that she would end a hunger strike she had carried out for 49 days from her cell in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison. Her offenses had been to act as a court defender of opposition political figures and activists, as well as for juveniles condemned to death for crimes committed when they were under age 18.

Soutoudeh, now nearly fifty, was sentenced last year to 11 years’ imprisonment, and barred from work in the field of law. On appeal, her term was reduced to six years. During her sustained act of defiance, Nasrin Soutoudeh consumed only water mixed with sugar and salts. Her weight fell to 95 pounds; her health became fragile.

She concluded her starvation protest after the Iranian dictatorship acceded to her main demand: that a travel ban be lifted from her 12-year old daughter Mehraveh. Soutoudeh also initiated the fast to dramatize the bad conditions under which she is held. Her husband, Reza Khandan, remains restricted in his movements by order of the regime.

In a statement from Norway, the International Organization to Preserve Human Rights in Iran (IOPHR) pointed out that official Iranian media has accused local spiritual Sufis of supporting Soutoudeh as part of an alleged foreign conspiracy to subvert the Tehran authorities. IOPHR warns that on this basis, Sufis are vulnerable to false trials and imprisonment. According to Sufis and human rights monitors, the repressive Iranian institutions consider “having ‘compassion’ for a Muslim woman in prison to be ‘acting against national security,’ ‘disturbing public order” and ‘insulting the Supreme Leader,’” a post currently held by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

IOPHR identifies the persecution of Nasrin Soutoudeh and the Sufis with a sinister “think tank,” the “Islamic Center for the Study of Religions and their Different Interpretations” located in Qom, the headquarters of theological radicalism in Iran. As one of several such institutions with similar titles and the same goal – penetration of Western academic circles and dissemination of Iranian state ideology, this “Center,” through one of its Persian-language publications, Markaz Didban (Center Watch), has attacked Soutoudeh.

According to IOPHR, Ayatollah Muhammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, chairman of the Assembly of Experts, admitted that “the supporting pole of the regime’s tent is bent.” By this, Kani is said to recognize that conflicts between the personal, doctrinal, and political factions within the Islamist government have undermined its credibility. Entities such as the “Islamic Center for the Study of Religions and their Different Interpretations” harm Iranian stability more than any actions by dissidents by sowing intrigues and fear at all levels of society.

Meanwhile, IOPHR states, Ali Larijani, Khamenei’s “national security expert,” and promoter to the world of the Iranian nuclear program, travels daily to Damascus and Beirut to “maintain the status quo” embodied in the bloodthirsty Syrian dictatorship of Bashar Al-Assad and the Lebanese government dominated by the terror group, Hezbollah.

IOPHR has appealed for aid and cooperation from other international institutions; it seems to wish to use the great potential of public opinion outside Iran as a platform for a major global effort to expose conditions in the Iranian prisons. IOPHR describes Tehran’s penal establishments as torture houses and dungeons run by stubborn and self-interested bureaucrats answerable to nobody – not even to the higher strata of clerical power.

The human rights activists and Sufis have praised the example provided by Nasrin Soutoudeh in her deliberate refusal of food. The call of the Iranian dissenters should not go unanswered. Demonstrations and conferences are overdue in Western and other foreign capitals, especially in Europe, the United States, and Canada. The Iranian usurpers should learn that while their internal contradictions and quarrels threaten to bring their tent down on their heads, the world is watching. Inevitably, the doors of Evin Prison and Tehran’s other houses of cruelty and degradation must be opened.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

Libya Fast Becoming the New Iraq

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

In Benghazi, a car bomb aimed at Libyan intelligence officials shook a crowded street. It’s not the first car bomb to strike Libya after the fall of Gaddafi. Benghazi has its own insurgency and remains a flashpoint for the looming civil war that no one is talking about.

Postwar Libya has not received the same scrutiny that postwar Iraq did. The reasons for that revolve around partisan politics and differences in commitment. American soldiers are not patrolling the streets of Benghazi the way that they did in Baghdad, and that translates into a lack of public engagement. Unlike Iraq, Libya is a back-burner issue, even if the oil-rich country is beginning to look a lot like Iraq.

The fall of Gaddafi, like the fall of Saddam, unleashed simmering tribal and religious tensions. While Libya does not have the sharp indigenous split between Sunnis and Shiites that Iraq does, the Arab Spring opened the door to Salafi violence across North Africa from Mali to Tunisia and east through Libya and as far as Egypt.

The Arab Spring uprisings have been used by the Islamists as a pretext for purging Christians in Egypt and Syria, as well as Sufis in Mali and Libya. Despite a recent election in Libya that was widely hailed as a signpost of stability, the country is in no way stable and its central authority is an illusion. Tribal warfare, even of the kind taking place in Zitan, 90 miles from Tripoli, is however a lesser evil compared to the revelation that the Libyan government either cannot stop the Salafi violence or is unwilling to do so.

Both possibilities are present and plausible. The Libyan military under Gaddafi was a patchwork of expensive equipment and incompetent troops. The loss of much of that expensive equipment in Gaddafi’s earlier wars and NATO bombing raids that targeted whatever was left over leaves the Libyan government with limited security capabilities.

The loose coalition against Gaddafi has been splintered by its own differing agendas. One of the few things that everyone agrees on is the necessity of using Islam and Islamic law to fill the gap left by Gaddafi and his charade of Libyan nationalism. If one of Gaddafi’s kin were to try and reclaim Libya, enough factions might unite together to put a stop to his efforts, but no similar coalition can be assembled to protect Libya’s Sufis or its women, the other group being targeted by the Salafis.

Libyan Interior Minister Fawzi Abdel A’al has made it clear that the Salafis have a free hand to do as they please. “If all shrines in Libya are destroyed so we can avoid the death of one person,” he said, “then that is a price we are ready to pay.”

Libyan security forces have stood aside or even helped the Salafis do to Libya what the Taliban did to Afghanistan. But that is only to be expected when many members of those security forces, patched together out of bands of ambitious Jihadi fighters, are Salafis. The Interior Minister may have unilaterally ceded all of Libya’s Sufi shrines to the Salafis, but the Salafis won’t stop at destroying graves. Not when they can fill them as well.

In Tunisia and Egypt, Salafi violence has been met with similar inaction or delayed reactions from the security forces. The Muslim Brotherhood and some other Islamists distance themselves from Salafi attacks on non-Muslims or on variant Muslim groups to maintain plausible deniability while the Salafis rid them of people they consider infidels and heretics. The Salafis have foreign backing and no shortage of recruits eager to kill and maim for the cause, and the Post-Arab Spring governments are staying out of their way.

“To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and -– more profoundly -– our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are,” Obama said, in his speech defending the Libyan intervention. But what does the current state of Libya say about who we are?

The Libyan intervention handed over the country to rule by armed militias and car bombs go off in major cities. As religious, political and tribal violence reaches a boiling point; what has become of that responsibility?

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/libya-fast-becoming-the-new-iraq/2012/09/09/

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